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Author Topic: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping  (Read 1711 times)

cohenmk

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Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« on: September 10, 2013, 02:18:10 PM »
My husband and I are relatively new to RV'ing and realize most everything learned is by practice. We recently spent the night in a Safeway parking lot when we were unable to get into the nearby rv parks. We managed just fine, except the refrigerator didn't stay cold. I thought it was supposed to pull power from the propane tank when not hooked up to electrical power. True? Not true?

Thanks for your help!

Marilyn 

Gizmo

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 02:28:49 PM »
Most are set-up to switch to propane when not connected to electrical "shore" power.  Most seem to have an automatic setting that accomplishes this, but some may not.  Make sure the propane tank being used is on and if a two tank system, make sure the valve between the two tanks is either set to draw from the full tank or in the middle which will automatically draw from the full tank.  Next check your refrigerator settings, if there is an automatic selection make sure it is on auto, then plug the RV in to electrical power turn the refrigerator and verify it is running.  If it is, unplug the electrical cord and watch to see if it switches over to propane.  If there is no auto selection, set it manually to propane, then do the above.  If the above does not work and your propane stove and heater work, then there would appear to be a problem with your refrigerator, specifically the switching mechanism or the propane supply connection to the refrigerator.
Regards, Bruce, Lin An & Kenji
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carson

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 02:35:10 PM »
A little addendum to GIZMOS post, if I may....

  It also requires a charged 12 Volt battery in the RV (Trailer or motorized).
Carson, 
 West Central Florida
Ex RV'er. (1995 Winnebago Adventurer)
...Logic works like a charm...

Carl L

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 02:37:41 PM »
If the fridge control is set to gas operation it will use propane as a source of heat in its cycle but its still needs battery, 12VDC, power for its control board.  Not much but some power which is provided by your batteries.   If your batteries have charge and your propane tank has propane and your fridge control is set for gas or automatic operation, your fridge should cool.

You did set the control -- right?   :)
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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cohenmk

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 02:53:21 PM »
The unit is a 2013 Thor Hurricane (just in case anyone has that model and is familiar with it). The refrigerator does have and is in the auto feature mode. As a matter of fact, it's been working well by electric when hooked up at the parks and by propane when we're rolling. No problem and no need to change settings.

The batteries all seem to be fully charged. We did use the generator for a couple of hours when dry camping, just for light and A/C before going to bed. I wonder if that was enough to drain the batteries.

Thank you all for your input. I think I'm going to be using this site a lot!!

donn

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 03:08:22 PM »
Did or have you purged the gas lines prior to attempting to run the refer on gas?  Just turning on the gas will not do it.  You must purge the air out of the lines first.

Carl L

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2013, 06:42:37 PM »
Did or have you purged the gas lines prior to attempting to run the refer on gas?  Just turning on the gas will not do it.  You must purge the air out of the lines first.

Good thought Donn.

Marilyn, in between uses of the propane system, air can seep into the lines.   It needs to be purged from the system before the fridge's flame will light.   The simplest way to purge the lines is to light a burner on the stove.   That will take a few seconds as the air rushes out of the burner.   When the flame is steady, turn the burner off and try starting the fridge by pushing the appropriate button  -- that button on my Dometic unit was labeled  Check but yours may differ.    You may need several retries as the fridge's internal lines purge out.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Lowell

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2013, 07:00:16 PM »
I'm always surprised it takes as long as it does to purge the air out of the lines.  I do turn on the burners on the stove and get all three of them going for about 20 seconds or so before trying the refrigerator on gas. 
Lowell

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tanglemoose

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2013, 08:54:28 PM »
Our fridge did the same on our first time out... luckily I had the book. Our manual says to turn to propane, leave on for a few minutes and if the light blinks, saying it is not working right. turn off and do the process a few times until the pilot light lights....  I am guessing that lighting the pilot light on stove would do the same thing. I was just glad we had all the manuals with us! 

Donna and Mark, Montana Newbies

Great Horned Owl

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2013, 07:31:08 AM »
How old is it? The older refrigerators required that you light a pilot light in order to run on propane. Sometimes, getting it lit was a bit of a struggle.

Joel
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jagnweiner

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2013, 07:41:56 AM »
How old is it? The older refrigerators required that you light a pilot light in order to run on propane. Sometimes, getting it lit was a bit of a struggle.

Joel

She said it is new, 2013.

It seems odd that it was working fine on propane when driving but not when parked.  Do you know for sure it is actually not functioning on propane, or is it just not staying cool enough?  I think some more investigation is in order.  With everything else turned off (furnace, water heater, generator) and in someplace relatively quiet, try starting the refer on propane.  You should be able to faintly hear the propane burner from outside the RV by the vent for the refer.  If you can't hear it, then it is not working on propane.  You should also see some kind of error message on the front of the refer.

If you do hear the propane burner working, then there is some other issue.  BTW, if you don't already have one, I recommend a thermometer to keep in the fridge so you really know how well it is cooling.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

JudyJB

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2013, 11:28:57 PM »
My motorhome has a small switch near the switches for the hot water tank, water pump, and generator that needs to be on so a small red light is lit.  This provides power to the refrigerator when it is running in propane mode.  I made the mistake when I first drove mine of turning this off when on the road.  It says "Aux battery." 

I'm not sure how yours works, but the fact that it worked while you were driving says to me that it was getting battery power then, but is not getting battery power when parked, leading me to believe something may be switched off.

Tinmania

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2013, 10:14:21 AM »
Easiest thing to do is pull the vent panel off and verify there is a flame. Turn off the fridge and the battery, then turn on the battery and fridge (in that order). Looking and listening in the fridge vent panel you should hear the piezo electric starter clicking--and if successful the burner lighting.

If you only hear the clicking but burner doesn't light it is a propane issue. Most fridges have a "check" or trouble light to indicate the propane isn't working.

If you don't hear clicking at all then it sounds like electrical.

There might be a "propane only" setting on the fridge that will only try and use propane. You try to use that but don't forget to turn back to auto when on shore power.

Finally, if you parked and were not level (as in far from level) the fridge can be affected by that (whether on propane or A/C). The gas absorption refrigerator has no compressor, or even any moving parts, to pump refrigerant through the system. It works best when level.




Michael

Jeff

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2013, 11:13:26 AM »
Were you fairly level while parked at Walmart?

utahclaimjumper

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2013, 06:49:32 PM »
 Please go to the "Tech" section and read Gary Brinks excellent post about running your propane fridge going down the road,( Fridge: How level is enough?)  I always switch mine to AC for traveling down the road, my system provides AC for the fridge via the inverter, I feel that the engine alternator has to generate DC to operate the engine and accessories, so why not get the fridge current for free?? When in a dry camp area I switch to propane after leveling.>>>Dan
« Last Edit: November 05, 2013, 06:51:13 PM by utahclaimjumper »
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Jeff

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2013, 08:02:11 PM »
Regardless of whether the fridge obtains it heat source from propane or 110v electric power it operates exactly the same while traveling or sitting and can overheat for all the reasons mentioned in the many posts regarding this on the Forum.




Great Horned Owl

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2013, 06:46:20 AM »
Please go to the "Tech" section and read Gary Brinks excellent post about running your propane fridge going down the road,( Fridge: How level is enough?)  I always switch mine to AC for traveling down the road, my system provides AC for the fridge via the inverter, I feel that the engine alternator has to generate DC to operate the engine and accessories, so why not get the fridge current for free?? When in a dry camp area I switch to propane after leveling.>>>Dan

There's no such thing as a free lunch. There is also no such thing as free energy. If you are drawing additional current from the alternator then it will put additional load on the engine, which will then use additional fuel.

Joel
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1994 19' Class B Horizon / Chevy

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2013, 07:53:14 AM »
As Jeff says, the fridge runs the same on either electric or propane as the heat source. In some models there may be minor differences in the amount of heat generated from one source or the other, but the cooling process is the same.

What does happen while driving is that the natural, heat-driven flow of the ammonia refrigerant through the cooling system gets disrupted as the vehicle moves around. It sloshes around all the time and is alternately  inhibited or or pushed through the system as you climb or descend grades, or accelerate/decelerate. Further, the normal upward flow of air over the cooling unit is subject to a variety of wind speeds and directions and may at times stop or even reverse the air flow.  Both of these typically reduce cooling and increase internal temperatures.
Gary
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Tinmania

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Re: Keeping Refrigerator Cold While Dry Camping
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2013, 10:41:57 AM »
There's no such thing as a free lunch. There is also no such thing as free energy. If you are drawing additional current from the alternator then it will put additional load on the engine, which will then use additional fuel.

Joel
And let's not forget that the alternator is not 100% efficient. So you lose energy just converting from mechanical to electrical. Then it is converted into D/C and from there into the battery or batteries (another loss). Then it has to be pulled out of the battery and turned back into A/C by the inverter to run the fridge (yet another loss).

What would be "nearly free" energy would be using waste heat from the engine to heat the boiler in an RV fridge. It's a shame when driving with the fridge on we consume energy to heat the fridge, yet doing the best we can to get rid of heat from the drive-train.




Michael